Google Received Access to Healthcare Data of UK PatientsAdded: Friday, May 6th, 2016
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A Google-owned company DeepMind was granted access to the healthcare data of 1.6m patients from three London hospitals run by a major NHS trust. The London-based company owned by Google is known for its innovative use of artificial intelligence. DeepMind is being provided with the patient information within the frameworks of an agreement with the Royal Free NHS trust running three British hospitals: Barnet, Chase Farm and Royal Free. The provided patient information includes data about HIV-positive people, details of drug overdoses, abortions and patient data from the past 5 years.
The company recently disclosed its plans to develop software in collaboration with NHS hospitals that would enable them to alert staff to patients at risk of deterioration and death through kidney failure. It is run as a smartphone app and is supported by Lord Darzi, a surgeon and former Health Minister, currently director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London.
However, the agreement in question has caused doubts among people who have already been concerned about the company’s moves in the healthcare sector. One of the hospitals explained that its patients would not be aware that data was being made available. However, it added that the information was encrypted and such an arrangement with DeepMind was standard practice and was similar to the other 1,500 agreements with 3rd-party organizations processing NHS patient data. Patients are able to opt out of any data-sharing system by contacting the NHS trust’s data protection officer. This applies to all information sharing agreements with non-NHS organizations.
Representatives of Google-owned DeepMind explained that access to timely and relevant clinical data was essential for doctors. In this particular case, the arrangement focuses on acute kidney injuries that contribute to 40,000 deaths a year in the United Kingdom, many of which can be prevented. According to the kidney specialists who have led this work, the alerts the new system generates are able to transform outcomes for the patients. In the meantime, generating these alerts requires access to information about a range of tests taken at different time intervals.
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